Adapting to Change = No Geographic Boundaries

Adapting has been top of mind for me during the last few months. The world has experienced monumental change in a short time. I’m constantly thinking about how I should adjust to my current reality.

During a conversation last week, Tom shared a professional realization. He has long believed that great partnerships lead to success in his line of work. Therefore, identifying great partners is crucial. He has always established relationships with and evaluated potential partners through in-person interaction. That approach served him well for over a decade. He had a lot of success working with some great people he got to know face to face. Relationships are still key in his world, but in-person dealings aren’t an option anymore. He has to find partners in a new way. He’s actively looking for ways to identify and evaluate partners virtually.

As I reflected on the conversation, a few things jumped out at me. John’s former approach was highly effective but also highly restrictive. He was limited by geographic boundaries. Sure, he could travel and whatnot, but there’s a realistic limit to how often and how far he would travel. I’d imagine there are lots of great people he never considered over the years because they weren’t near him.  

The pandemic has upended life as we knew it, but humans are adaptable and I think it could lead to many amazing things. One in particular strikes me at the moment: opportunities may no longer be geographically constrained. Learning to build relationships, evaluate others, and collaborate virtually could be a game changer. Eliminating spatial boundaries could help spread opportunity more evenly. Qualified people at a geographic disadvantage could have an equal chance to get in the game. The ripple effects could be huge, reshaping our workforce and the economy.

We’re in the early phases of adapting. Lots of questions still must be answered. But the more I think about the potential of virtual work to remove boundaries, the more excited I get. This is a difficult time for everyone, but it could result in seismic change that has a long-lasting positive affect on society.